12. Writing Workshops

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Making It Work
One important benefit to joining a workshop is that it provides a regular, specific incentive to get writing done. There's nothing like the deadline of an approaching meeting to get you to quit procrastinating and sit down and write.

Still, workshops being what they are — collections of unpredictable human beings — it's impossible to know how well any given group of people will work out together. If everyone respects the above rules and pulls toward the common goal of helping everyone to grow as a writer, chances are your workshop will succeed. Sometimes not everyone does this, and it can torpedo a workshop before it ever has a chance. If you have the misfortune of this happening to you, do your best to resolve the issues; but if in the end you can't, you may have to move on and try elsewhere.

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have in a workshop (and for that matter, in life). Listening — not just to the sound of your own voice! — should always be strongly encouraged in any workshop setting. There's no room for grandstanding, or one-upmanship, or trying to prove how much smarter or cleverer you are than the next person. This sort of behavior is always destructive to a workshop environment and should be discouraged the moment it rears its head.

In short, you have to use people skills if you want your workshop to succeed. This is especially true of in-person workshops, but also applies to online communities. A harsh or thoughtless word can sting just as much on the screen as it does coming across the room. So treat your fellow workshoppers with respect, make clear that you expect the same treatment in return, and keep a sense of humor!


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